Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variation in living organisms, viewed within a given habitat, ecosystem or in the world as a whole. The concept is usually applied to the species diversity, although the notion of genetic biodiversity is applied to the variation in genes within an individual species. While most people think of rainforests as loci of great biodiversity, biomes such as oceans and grasslands are the likely repositories for even greater variation. Retention of diverse biota is important, since intact ecosystems are thought to be essential for provision of ecosystem services to humans, including maintenance of a diverse foodbank, pollination, clean water, flood control, pest control, waste decomposition, biomass energy resources and climate stability. Biodiversity is presently critical since we live in the era of the Mass Holocene Extinction, a period of species loss caused by man, and unrivaled in rate of species loss. Although the number of total species numbers in the tens of millions, most have not yet even been described. The extinction of a species is almost always related to destruction of habitat or man-made pollution.

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    Coral reefs are one of the most diverse, complex, aesthetically appealing and threatened ecosystems on earth. This collection will include information on a wide range of topics... More »

  • Crustacea Featured Article Crustacea Crustacea

    Crustaceans are invertebrates belonging to the phylum Arthropoda and include such familiar groups as barnacles, crabs, crayfish, lobster, water fleas and pill bugs. Crustaceans... More »

  • Ecoregions of Utah (EPA) Featured Article Ecoregions of Utah (EPA) Ecoregions of Utah (EPA)

    The Ecoregions of Utah comprise a diverse set of plant communities and geomorphic provinces. Ecoregions denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems and in the type,... More »

  • Habitat fragmentation Featured Article Habitat fragmentation Habitat fragmentation

    Habitat fragmentation involves alteration of habitat resulting in spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater continuity. ... More »

  • Virus Featured Article Virus Virus

    A virus is a microscopic organism that can replicate only inside the cells of a host organism. Most viruses are so tiny they are only observable with at least a conventional... More »

  • South China Sea Featured Article South China Sea South China Sea

      The South China Sea is a critical world trade route and a potential source of... More »

  • Devonian Featured Article Devonian Devonian

    The Devonian period is a geologic time interval within the Paleozoic Era spanning from the end of the Silurian Period, aapproximately 417 million years before present (BP), to... More »

  • Spinner dolphin Featured Article Spinner dolphin Spinner dolphin

    The Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), a marine mammal in the family of oceanic dolphins,  gets its name from the spinning behavior it shows when it leaps out of... More »

  • Permian Featured Article Permian Permian

    The Permian period lasted from 290 to 248 million years ago and was the last period of the Paleozoic Era. The distinction between the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic is made at the... More »

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Brassicaceae: An agri-horticulturally important family Last Updated on 2014-07-22 17:19:27 Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) is an important dicotyledonous, angiospermic (true flowering) plant family with a global distribution. Species belonging to the Brassicaceae are well suited to a wide range of intensive and low input agri-techniques. They are primarily adapted to temperate and sub-tropical climates depending on the species. Brassica species play an important role in global agriculture and horticulture. The genus Brassica was described by Linneus in 1750 based on B. oleracea.  Brassica contains a number of important species and wide genetic diversity. The species are characterized by a wide range of adaptations that have been domesticated into crops including oilseed rape/canola and swede (Brassica napus L.); cabbage, cauliflower; broccoli, brussels sprout (B. oleracea L.); turnip, Chinese cabbage and pak choi (B. rapa L.) and mustards (B. nigra (L.) W.D.J. Koch, B. alba... More »
Pinniped Last Updated on 2014-07-21 17:04:25 Pinnipeds ("finned-feet") are are group of marine mammals, that includes seals, sea lions, and walruses. The word pinniped is sometimes treated as a synonym for "seal" since all pinnipeds except for the the sole species of Walrus are seals (sea lions are eared seals).     Scientific Classification Kingdom: Animalia (Animals) Phylum:--- Chordata Class:------ Mammalia (Mammals) Order:-------- Carnivora (Carnivores) Family:-------- Otariidae (Eared seals) Pinnipeds differ form other marine mammals like whales, dolphins and porpoises in that they do not spend their entire lives in water. Pinnipeds "haul out" onto land and ice to mate, give birth, moult, and rest. Pinnipeds were agressively hunted until the early twentieth century for their skins, oil, meat and, in the case of... More »
Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, South Africa Last Updated on 2014-07-10 16:27:07 The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park (32°06’25’’E to 32°56’46’’E. and 26°51’26’’S to 28°29’07’’S) is a World Heritage Site. There are few comparable protected coastlines within the tropics as pristine as St. Lucia's. The Park is one of the outstanding natural wetland sites of Africa. It lies on a tropical-subtropical interface with a wide range of terrestrial, wetland, estuarine lake, coastal and marine environments, which are scenically beautiful and basically unmodified by people. These include coral reefs, long sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lake systems, swamps, and extensive reed and papyrus wetlands, critical habitat for a range of species from Africa's sea, wetlands and savannas. The interaction of these environments with major floods and coastal storms in the Park's transitional... More »
Wetland protection for reptiles and amphibians Last Updated on 2014-07-10 16:08:27 Wetlands serve as critical habitat for many species of amphibians and reptiles, collectively known as herpetofauna, or “herps". Their reliance on wetlands makes herps especially vulnerable to the loss and degradation of wetlands; indeed, global population declines in reptiles and amphibians may be related to changes in the quality and availability of wetland habitat. All amphibians rely on wetlands to some extent. Many species lay gelatinous eggs under water, whereas others, like certain salamanders, lay their eggs on moist land. After hatching, many young amphibians enter an aquatic larval stage, which can last from several days to many months (or even several years, as is the case with the Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus). On becoming adults, most amphibians adopt a facultatively terrestrial lifestyle, and may use both wetland and upland... More »
International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Last Updated on 2014-07-10 15:54:39 The IUCN is the world's largest conservation organization, bringing together 82 States, 111 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable. Also known as the 'World Conservation Union' since 1990, the IUCN is a multicultural, multilingual organization with 1,000 staff located in 62 countries. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland. The IUCN is currently divided into six commissions. These are: a) Ecosystem Management b) Education and Communication c) Environmental, Economic and Social Policy d)... More »